Remembering Steve Jobs

The Apple store on North Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL

Joan Larsen reflects on the experience of losing one of the world’s great visionaries

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs

On the corner of Huron and Michigan Avenue on Chicago’s Miracle Mile lies Steve Jobs’ two-story Apple store, glass-fronted, stunning, and always a  drawing card for the crowds packing the sidewalks, drawn to the displays of the latest of innovative products that are to hit the market.

But the last few days have been like no other. Within hours of the visionary CEO’s death, his building had become a shrine. Lit candles in glass jars glittered against the store’s windows. Flowers began to build up against the entrance.

Perhaps I was the last to know that Steve had passed away. It was early morning when I was released from a short hospital stay less than a block away. As I approached the Apple store, I saw TV crews in place, live interviews taking place at every angle in the first hours of daylight. I sawa black carpet of a rubberized fabric being laid down. But my eyes were drawn by the growing shrine — flowers being placed so lovingly by people from all walks of life. My eyes teared.

In a flash I tripped on that carpet, falling hard on my face, overnight bag and purse determining their own directions. Face down and on the ground and hurting, I realized that I had become almost a piece of the shrine, stretched out and unable to move. All of us have had embarrassing moments in life … but this was very different. I had become a plank, wind knocked out of me, and resting among the candles and the bouquets. Cameras turned in my direction, sensing that — perhaps for the first time — a person was actually leading the beginning of a “love-in” for Steve Jobs. (Not that I wouldn’t, you must understand, but an extemporaneous gesture of this sort just would not be me, given a choice. But then, I was not given a choice!)

Flowers crowning my head and scattered around me, I made efforts to stand but couldn’t. Men in particular came over, asking how I was. Asking if they could help me. Frankly, they renewed my faith in mankind. I found how many people really care in what I had thought was a “me first” era. Rarely have I been so touched.

And so — at an unlikely time and place, completely unplanned — I had more than a few moments on that ground to think about the wondrous changes this amazing man had made to our world before the ambulance came for me. I was able to say my own goodbyes in a rather unique way … caught by the cameras, surrounded by solicitous passersby, on the least private thoroughfare in Chicago.

An afterword: Life never seems to stop giving us pause, making us think, making us realize that we should be making each day of our lives the best it can be as Jobs did. And, by the way, the doctors tell me that broken bones may only take six weeks to heal!!! How good is that?

Writer Joan Larsen covers travel and culture for

11 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Joan, oh no! You broke some bones in that fall? Not to mention – well, if it were me, I would have had a fractured ego as well. But in typical Joan fashion, you focused your attention on someone else – Steve Jobs – and reflected on his accomplishments, rather than solely focusing on the misfortune involving the black carpet. Speedy recovery to you!

  2. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Joan –  I hope you have an easy and speedy recovery.  There have also been flowers and notes placed before the Jobs modest home located in the south bay.  May he rest in peace.

    • avatar chipgiii says:

      Steve Jobs’ home was modest only by the standard of the very wealthy, to most it was a mansion.  He drove a Mercedes, maybe not a flashy one, but a Mercedes; he persuaded, easily, Apple to provide him with a Gulfstream jet.  His genius often seemed anti materialistic, but he was a capitalist at heart, and didn’t shy from the finer things in life. 

      I am not criticizing him, he earned them to be sure.  He was not, however, as anti materialistic as he wanted us to believe.  Could he afford a lot more?  Absolutely.

  3. avatar mary burdt says:

    Hi Joan…Oh my, what a scene you must have caused at the Apple Store. My first question is why were you walking alone when you were just released from the hospital? Secondly, how are you feeling now? My thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery. We love you here on wOw.

    A Steve Jobs comes along once in a lifetime and I believe his likes are not to be seen for some time. We will miss him.


  4. avatar Mary says:

    Oh dear dear Joan,  I am so sorry that you are hurt!  I guess you will always remember where you were when you heard of Steve Jobs death.  Do take care , do be good to yourself. I know you will not let this get you down and can’t wait to hear your adventures.

    • avatar Joan Larsen says:

      To these wonderful friends on WoW . . .

      So many thanks to you all for the kind words . . . and you know me well and how quickly I seem to be able to turn things around.  Truly, you never would have known if the accident had been a block away, but there seemed to me to be something – well, way out — to become, for a short time, the fallen centerpiece among the flowers of Steve Job’s memorial.  Embarrassing?  In looking back . . .OMG, yes!  BUT — if I had to fall — well, it couldn’t have been a better place.

      You see, Steve Jobs – the man, the masterful orator who had such skill in turning a phrase,
      would often say rather profound things that I would print out and keep in front of me, serving as reminders.  I will leave you with just two:

      “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.’  It made an impression on me, and since then, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:  ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’  And whenever the answer has be ‘NO’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

      And then, this one:

      “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of ther people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

  5. avatar Rho says:

    So sorry to hear this, may you have a full recovery.

  6. avatar wilowist says:

    Joan: Not what you needed after just getting out of the hospital. My best wishes for a complete recovery. Thank you for the quotes from Steve Jobs, my hero.

  7. avatar Jeannot Kensinger says:

    Our fantastic Joan can’t just fall in a little corner with her great husband at her side to do the mending, no, Joan likes to be noticed so she falls gingerly, like a light ballerina in motion, and her nose already knew where the flowers were so she aimed for them. Did she notice the TV camera’s nearby? Did she know she would have the world of good looking men around to help her up and get immediate help? I am thinking that needs a “yes” answer.
    Joan survives all kinds of annoying pesky little pains here and there but all she will tell you about them is how handsome the Dr. was. Hugs to my friend. Steve would have loved your tribute.

  8. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I am pleased to know that you were not injured. And that your rose-colored glasses remained in place. I know it’s not polite to speak ill of the dead. But, well, not many spoke well of him while he was alive. A great man to be sure. But great men are not always nice men. A wealthy man to be sure. But wealthy men don’t always use their wealth for the betterment of other men. He certainly didn’t.  One can say he made our lives better through his innovations. But many of those were actually someone else’s. Either way, he did nothing unless there was profit to be made. He was driven by that. Not by any altruistic sense of making the world a better place. 

    We have thousands and thousands of Americans taking to the streets to protest vulture capitalism and most of them it seems have an i-Pod. And Steve Jobs no doubt is enjoying the irony. He and all the other vultures.

  9. avatar Jerry says:

    Steve Jobs telling Obama he’s going to be a one term presidemt is classic.